Holidaze: Food for thought.

Last weekend my immediate family gathered together at my brother’s place in Horace. My grandma Rita joined in on the fun too, which was a sweet (sorta planned) surprise. Usually she finds herself at my Uncle Troy’s but due to everyone’s comfortability with health and whatnot, that just wasn’t in the cards.

We did the usual things; visited, opened gifts, and played games. At one point, the games got so rambunctious that my dad asked my mom how much we’d all had to drink. Shocker, pops but we were simply jacked up on cheer and chocolate. He and my youngest brother sat idlily by while we quite literally displayed Utter Nonsense in various accents round and round again. A game everyone must have in their collection!

I do think this was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I remember having in quite some time. The food was good, the company even better. No one seemed to be too bogged down by having to spend quality time with each other and my dad even got out of the house to go pawning; a regular activity that really seems like a holiday tradition.


Fast-forward to the real deal, Christmas itself.. I found myself with nothing to do and I was actually pretty okay with it. I felt blessed that my family was all in good health and able to spend time together the weekend before. I had decided weeks ago to keep myself busy by volunteering at church on Christmas Eve and filling my Christmas Day with holiday movies galore.

For the first year in three, I wasn’t sad. I had a couple of blips, sure. A few moments in the days leading up to the holiday when people were describing their plans and I was like “well, we celebrated last weekend so just me, myself, and I.” And actually, I think more people felt sorry for me than I felt for myself, which was new.


I hadn’t physically stepped foot in Prairie Heights in months; only twice since our worlds changed. It was weird and uncomfortable both times but not for lack of trying. We all have had to make due with what we can; evolve to live. We’re taught to believe that church isn’t a building but people. It’s true, I do believe that. But it’s hard to be the church without the people. Without seeing the faces IRL that keep you accountable in whatever it is; life, faith, or otherwise.

My eyes swelled up before I even opened the doors at PH and when I was greeted with the same smiling eyes as I always had been, I was reminded that the church is in fact people but it didn’t sink in until I was in the building. How is that?

I felt like I was both home and away from home in the same moment. I watched from the sidelines as the service before the one I volunteered at get dismissed; families gathering together for what I can only assume is a holiday photo opp. I watched other volunteers embrace one another in elbow bumps and air high fives, radiating such immense joy from behind their masks.

I listened intently as Marni, the director of Guest Services thanked us, prayed over us, and shared the hurt in her heart over how different her holiday was this year in comparison to years past. I found myself feeling remorseful for getting to spend the holiday with my family just last weekend, forgetting how many households didn’t have that luxury this year.


A dear friend of mine was asked to share her story with the PH community this Christmas season. The theme being “The Thrill of Hope.” Now, I don’t know if it’s just because I know her or if it was the feeling of community on Christmas Eve or the holy spirit at work; likely a combination of all three but her story, even though I’d heard it previously, hit me like a ton of bricks.

I met Anna before she’d even attended Prairie Heights. She joined the same Grow Group I did at the same time, but she had yet to step foot in the church. We both came with broken hearts for different reasons and had the courage to not only show up but trust others to be gentle. To ask for prayers. I feel so honored to have seen first hand how God has been working in her life since that first evening I met her. One of my very favorite things Anna has ever said in our small group and in her testimony is: “I had a God-shaped hole in my heart and I was trying to fill it with everything else. But it was Jesus, that’s what was missing.” Uffda, is that ever true. You can watch Anna’s video below:


To my surprise, I actually didn’t end up being alone on Christmas either. My aunt reached out asking if I’d like to come over for dinner and to visit. All of my cousins on my dad’s side were there and it was such a fun time. Growing up, we were hours and hours away from that side of the family. We’d see them occasionally but we didn’t grow up with them, like on my mom’s side. So, as the oldest, it’s always been so weird for me. Like, I remember them young. In diapers. Little kids that were too tiny to play Scrabble or have anything in common with. Now, fast-forward two decades and we’re all adults. We’re on different paths and have completely different worlds but we have the opportunity to connect in a way that we never did before. It’s still weird though. I still feel like the old one in the bunch but I’ll take what I can get!

We played what seemed like a plethora of games and changed the rules of some. We ate delicious foods, too many sweets, and I may have participated in an olive showdown challenge with my cousin, Dallas. I even talked them into taking part in the inaugural adventure of the Adventure Challenge book I gifted myself this Christmas. ‘Twas a fun time.


I originally had a different plan for this final post of the Holidaze series. I wanted to focus on the story of Christmas; that it’s not about the gifts or the food or the fun. Because faithfully, it’s not. I think we all know that. And I think we’ve all just come to accept that it’s morphed into this Americanized “vacation” that everyone either looks forward to or dreads.

  • Whether we celebrate the holiday for the right reasons or not, I was reminded in my BEMA small group this week of Micah 6:8 “..to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • I was nudged to serve at Prairie Heights for Christmas so others could spend quality time with their loved ones.
  • I was moved by Anna’s message of hope when everything seems so hopeless.
  • I was reminded by Pastor Beth in her Christmas message that everything has meaning in God’s plan.

Christmas isn’t about the gifts or the food or the fun. But it is. The gift of life and community that we’re fortunate to be given because of Jesus. The food of wisdom and the God-moment reminders in every day life are there, if we are hungry enough to listen. The fun in the joy we feel by seeing and being with people we love.

Jesus taught us to simply love one another. That’s it, really. The story might get lost and the traditions might change but the message never has. I hope that even if your holiday season was filled with piles upon piles of wrapping paper and garbage bags full of leftovers, that you were able to take pause and feel even the slightest sense of gratitude for all that Christmas is regardless of creed.

Merry Christmas from here and thank you for reading! -Ori

Holidaze: A letter a day is rare, they say.

A few months ago, I gifted my mom a book called 100 Life Challenges. It’s a fill-in-the-blank type calendar full of (100 to be exact) 30-day challenges, introducing the concept of developing good habits and at a time like this, Lord knows we could all do with some healthy new norms.

I can sometimes be a selfish Sally so I had to buy myself the same book because 1. Your girl loves a good challenge and 2. Filling things out; forms, applications, lists.. they bring me all the comforts and joy. Don’t @ me for being nerdy. *pushes glasses up*

See, before this whole book thing came about, my mom had been sending me challenges for years. I don’t know when it started or how but I know she was the first to offer up a challenge. This typically has always revolved around health in some capacity by the way of Hydration Challenges (getting your 8-10 glasses a day in) to Overcoming Couch Potato Syndrome (move your butt before you sit on it) to Stop & Drop Challenges (stop what you’re doing and do a minute of squats)! Drop it like it’s hot, ladies and gentlemen.

Those were fun.


Anyway, I figure that success and follow-through sometimes requires a group effort so in giving this book to both my mom and I, I had hoped that she’d accept the invitation to do the challenges with me and she was up for the double-dog dare! Exciting!

Since October, we’ve done six challenges in this book so far. The primary focus is self-care. The challenges range from easy things like “light a candle when you get home” or “watch an ASMR video” to harder things like “look in the mirror and say out loud what you love about your body” or “set a bedtime and stick to it.” Some will become habits and some won’t but in those that we have done so far, I’ve taken something positive away each time and began developing new routines that may seem like little nothings but add up to a whole lot ‘a somethin’ when put together.

In that time, I’ve been making my bed daily, lighting candles to give my apartment a more homey feel, and taking time to actually reflect before bed each night about the moments and people throughout the day that I’m grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong, in all these months at home, my blue-light consumption has not improved much and I definitely don’t have a solid morning routine. I’m 31 years old and still hit snooze 17 times before rolling out of bed. I don’t usually bother with breakfast either and I shut down when I feel excluded.

BUT, this little book of challenges is slowly encouraging me to find the sweetness in the small things. It’s prompting me to think outside of the box. Never have I ever tried daily dry brushing or gone thirty days without watching TV but those challenges are up to bat on pages 168 and 154, respectively. And I’m here for it.


Because I’m a planner-McPlanner-ton, I looked ahead in this challenge book to see what was upcoming and noticed that the month of December would challenge me (us) to write a letter to someone each day.

Talk about pulling at a girls heart strings, I thought we were easing into this. I used to write to my great-grandma Elsie for years. She must have initiated it when I was a teenager or maybe even earlier. I’d like to think that I’ve kept every single one (I do have an entire basket full of letters) but I may be missing a few. I know I didn’t reply to each one, especially back then. I’m sure my busy little 16-year-old life was too important to bother replying as quickly as my last name implies.

But I did, eventually.

She would write pages and pages in her perfect “grandma Elsie scribble.” It was always a challenge in and of itself to read her writing and I managed to do so pretty well, I think. But I’m not sure the kids in school these days could make out her old-school cursive anymore. Many times, she’d also include a handmade doilies!

I don’t think I realized the impact that she had on me at the time and the compassion that she exuded in comparison to the legacy she’s left on my heart in the years since she’s passed. Through her letters, she shared with me little well-being tips like placing a bar of soap at the end of your bed under your blankets if you’re having leg cramps to stories about how she’d met my great-grandpa Nick and how she’d felt in the decades since he’d passed. She’d share stories about the ladies she’d go to dinner with and the conversations she had.

In her letters she’d talk about her relationship with God and wondered aloud why she was still living. She had lived a long, happy, and full life. She walked three miles a day nearly ’til the end. She transcribed the entire Bible front to back and kept every single card, letter, photo, and news-clipping she was sent. For everyone, from everyone. She did all the things and prayed all the prayers wondering what it was she was left here on Earth to do all this time without her Nick.

She would sometimes start a letter on Monday evening and finish it on Tuesday morning. She was consistent and persistent in her letters. She never gave up writing to me even if I wasn’t as prompt as she’d likely hoped. She wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable. She was interested in my life and she spoke to me in the letters as if we were right there next to one another.

Now, I don’t know if she ever got her answer here while living, about why God bothered having her live for so dang long but I like to think she figured it out if not then, hopefully by now. I know she had many more people in her life, more than I am years old, but I do think reaching me in the way she did from afar was without a doubt, an act of God. She never gave up and I’ll cherish every single one of these letters for the rest of my life.

And you want to know what else? She is not the only grandma that has habitually written to me. Going through my basket of letters and re-reading them this last week, I didn’t realize how many I also received from my grandma Darlene. I don’t think I realized it until now because growing up, I saw her much more frequently in person. Thinking back, I recall reading letters from her and when seeing her, we’d chat about them. I know I replied to my grandma Darlene in written form too but not nearly as often as Elsie. How wild and cool is that? It gives me goosebumps to come to the realization of how blessed I was then to have two grandma’s pour into me for years and years and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

But I do now.


Where was I? Oh yes, a letter writing challenge. I’ve written letters off and on in the years since my great-grandma has passed. I’ve taken time over the years to write quick thank you’s and even heartfelt messages to people I’m close to but it’s never been consistent and I don’t know why other than using the excuse of “life gets away from you sometimes.”

Writing a letter introduces a level of self-care that I didn’t even consider before. Not only does it help the writer to slow down a little, create a moment of mindfulness, and an opportunity to be technology free, but it helps the recipient too; to pause. To be a part of an experience that is rarely felt anymore; to open your mailbox and see something other than junk mail, other than bills.. It’s like a blip of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy chore.

I went hard on this challenge, too. I hadn’t prepped for any of our other challenges but you bet your butt I did this month. I wanted to both finish this weird (and kinda mostly negative) year on a positive and channel my inner GGE.

In order to do that, I needed to be as prepared as possible. I ordered supplies for both my mom and I (think envelopes, notebooks, cute stickers, stamps). I even purchased address labels for the first time in years. #feelinprofesh

But in order to really do this right on my end, I needed to be accountable and the only way for me to be accountable in the middle of a pandemic is through social media so I posted a series of stories on Insta and Facebook enlisting trusting volunteers to dare receive a handwritten letter filled with scribbles by yours truly.

Through that medium alone, I was able to reserve 26 of the 30 days of this challenge but I do have a couple more days to fill so, if you’ve made it this far and would like to receive a letter before the month is up, fill this out! Or text me or slide into my DM’s or whatever is less weird for you. (I promise it won’t be as long as this post!)

Honestly, I hope this reaches enough people that it’ll exceed my challenge goal because while this started out as a challenge, it’s really given me time to reflect in ways I hadn’t before. It’s given me the opportunity to take pause and think about the people I’m writing to, who they are as individuals in this world. What I know about them, how I know them, how I keep in touch with them, if I do at all.

I ask myself how they are hurting, how they are coping through all the shit of this year. I want to know what makes them wake up in the morning and what they worry about when they go to sleep at night. And I don’t know any of that, about any of them. And I try to relay that in my letters but I don’t know if it translates well. We live in a world now where everyone seems to be so established in their lives and it’s hard to break down the walls to let people in, or at least that’s what I’ve experienced thus far.

It’s easy, especially with the blessing/curse of social media, to think we know people when really, we don’t.

So, to those I’ve written to, I hope you’re doing well far beyond what my keyboard-prone fingers would allow me to write. Trust me when I say, had I had the stamina, I would have sent each person a five-page letter like my great-grandma did with me, maybe one day. But I hope the 1-2 pages of handwritten, probably illegible, letters will be the start of many exchanges (in some form or another) for years to come.

And to those who haven’t received a letter yet. Hang tight. It’s only the 21st of December. :)

I have two hopes as I finish out this challenge:

  1. I hope that I continue writing, pen to paper style. I hope that there are people interested in receiving letters. Maybe I can find a non-profit to work with and write letters to the elderly or the sick or reconnect with my Norwegian pen-pal from fourth grade. Who knows?
  2. And I hope that I can be the light in someone’s otherwise cloudy year even if just for a moment. I don’t care if my letters end up in the trash and I don’t expect responses in return, but I do know what it’s like to open the mailbox to something other than the reality of everyday life and I sure hope it makes others feel like everything will be okay like it does to me.

With that being said, I’ll leave you with a transcribed excerpt from my great-grandma Elsie:

By the fall of ’39, we moved to Warroad, Minn. When we got there, the lady wouldn’t let us live in the place we were promised. We moved to a town with no where to go, no home. Keep in mind my sweet little son was only a year old and it was nearly winter. We did end up moving into the empty Lindamood house for awhile sharing it with Dave and Martha. They had the two boys and we had baby Larry so they lived in the big kitchen and upstairs, we were in the living room. Larry’s fingers were so cold so he had to sleep between us in the bed.

Later, we bought a place from J.W. Pearson but there was no house, no outhouse. Just a road and a 1/2 mile full of manure. So, the church men came and cut logs for us. Hubert Hamlin sawed it into lumber and they all helped us build an 18×26 home; 1 large room and 1 bedroom but we were happy then, to be by ourselves. Helping each other when we’re down, that is what we called Christianity.

P.S. If you’re interested in the 100 Life Challenges book, I did link it at the top of the post but you can also find it in Fargo locally at Barnes & Nobel or Target. Thank you for reading!

Holidaze: I do remember, and then when I try to remember, I forget. -A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

My grandma’s memory is failing her and all I want to do is go back in time to relive the moments I didn’t realize I’d come to cherish.

I’ve been struggling to find a way to write this post because I don’t know who will see it or how it’ll be received. I won’t be writing anything that isn’t true to how I feel but when writing about something as debilitating as dementia, it can be painful to read. So grandma, if you read this, I love you. We all love you.

I’m fortunate enough to have experienced the love of many grandma’s in my 31 years of life. For the first 11 years, I had two great-grandmas, two grandmas, and a step-grandma. All living. How incredible is that?

My paternal great-grandma, Agnes, passed away at the age of 87. For the last handful years of her life, she struggled with Alzheimer’s and ultimately lost that battle not remembering the people who loved her most.

That is my greatest fear, truly. To not remember.

I feel like I function off of love, don’t we all to some extent? To live a life of love to the best of our abilities all to have it come to an end so slowly taking the best memories you have with it? It sounds like a miserable, gut-wrenching, disaster.

I feel like I’m watching that happen to my grandma Darlene (Agnes’ daughter, my dad’s mom) right now. I was 11 when my great-grandma Aggie died. The memories I have of her are few but fond. I remember her entire house inside and out. I could sketch it out on graph paper right now if I wasn’t typing this. I remember the little “hiding spots” upstairs. I remember the view we saw if we came in the front door verses the back. I remember Halloween and laughter and heavy Norwegian accents.

My two favorite memories of her are the buttering of saltine crackers for a snack and her infamous phrase towards men with saggy pants asking if they had “dritt i buksa” (shit in the pants!).

I know I was there towards the end but I don’t remember it as clearly as the good times, which is probably okay. I was very young visiting her in the nursing home and I remember seeing my grandma (her daughter) upset. I don’t think I had any idea what was actually happening outside of an old women nearing the end of her time here on the physical Earth. Nothing more, nothing less.

But I now know it was so much more than that. To be loved by people you don’t recognize and to love someone who no longer knows you.


I don’t experience every day life with my grandma anymore and haven’t for well over 15 years but we do phone often. She’s nearly three hours north of here and still lives on her own in the same house she did when I went to school in Roseau. My brother Nick and I would walk to her house after school when it was nice out.

As with my great-grandma Aggie, some of my favorite memories are with my grandma Darlene. Good memories that I didn’t know were good at the time. She took pride in her garden, always a green thumb. When I was little, I just assumed gardening was easy and it took little to no energy. I found out the hard way what a joke that is when I grew up and had dabbled a bit in it myself. I’m more of a succulent gal thanks to my many failed attempts. Teach me your ways, gram.

Her rickety old swing set was another. There was nothing special about it other than it was there and so were we. I’m surprised we never swung so high that it tipped over. She’d sit at the picnic table or garden while we played. Us kids were in our own little world so much of the time and she was just there watching us enjoy life in such a blissful state. I wonder what she was thinking about during those moments.

She used to make us mac n’ cheese with hotdogs but not just regular ol’ cut up hot dogs, that’s boring. She’d cut them vertically almost to the end and spread them out like an octopus over the pile of cheesy noodles. It always made us giggle.

Grandma’s two favorite shows in life (or at least in the life I was a part of) were JAG and Jeopardy. The two J’s, so to speak. She was way better at Jeopardy than I was. I called her when Alex Trebek died last month and she’d said she hadn’t watched Jeopardy in years. I wonder when she stopped and why. I didn’t think to ask.

I’m sure I could go on for days about the things that riled grandma up or the ones that made her laugh. Just thinking about them makes my eyes swell because those moments are so far behind us and I’m afraid they are memories all my own, no longer shared by her.

A week or two ago, my grandma stayed here in Fargo with my aunt Krissy. They have a strenuous relationship and always have, I believe. It’s not difficult to see the strain. I’m fortunate enough not to know what that’s like. I can’t imagine having to sort through those types of feelings for a lifetime. But I see the hurdles they face in them both, my aunt and my grandma, or I try my best to.

My grandma wasn’t a perfect mom or grandma for that matter but who is, really? My mom recently put that into perspective when she said parents aren’t given a guidebook. They do their best with what they know or have and I try to remember that often especially when I feel put down.

I think my grandma has made comment on my weight every single time I’ve seen her throughout my life. It doesn’t sting any less now than it did when I was 8 years old. I think she’s developed tact over the years though, but maybe not. When I brought her to dinner a couple weeks back, I was telling her about the adventures I hope to go on in 2021 (pending the ‘rona of course). One of them being South Africa. On one hand, she was at a loss for words in admiration of the wanderlust spirit I have but on another hand, she was pre-emptively second-hand embarrassed for me. She made me promise that I wouldn’t travel anywhere else until I “lose a considerable amount of weight” and it breaks her heart to see me looking like I do. A promise I don’t know if I can keep, honestly. She also reminded me that it’ll be hard to find love if I look the way that I do, that it might have been better just to stay with “him” (my ex of nearly 10 years) because then I wouldn’t be alone.

I know all of that and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell myself those same things on a way-too-regular basis but I also know them to be falsities of another generation.

In moments like that, I struggle to keep the hurt feelings inside but I do. Because the affliction I see in her eyes less than two minutes later when she doesn’t know where she is is more painful than anything she’s ever said about my weight.

When she was here to visit for a week, I spent four evenings with her. We mostly reminisced about the good ol’ days of the 20th century. I asked how she met my grandpa; what kind of dates they went on and what he was like as a father in the early years. I asked about how her parents met, what her favorite memories were, and learned all about things I’d never bothered asking before.

I focused on the past because the present seems to cause so much distress in her mind. When we do circle back to the here-and-now, the tone in her voice changes from a lighthearted sparkle to one filled with melancholy and tears. She’s so weak and frail in those moments. She’s sometimes literally and figurately so lost in the present that it’s unbearable for her.

She knows it happening, her memory failing. I picture it the same way I pictured an accident I was in a few years back. I was going 60 on the interstate here in Fargo. Traffic slowed ahead of me, as did I, but the traffic slowed so abruptly that I didn’t have a chance to react in time. It all happened so fast and so slow in the same moment. It was terrifying.

That’s how I imagine my grandma feels when her memory lapses.


She’s back home now. My aunt brought her home two Saturday’s ago. At the time I didn’t know that the most painful of conversations were about to be had.

My grandma called me because she didn’t know who it was that delivered us pizza the evening before, here in Fargo. She didn’t know whose home we had been in with my cousins and brother surrounding the table and she didn’t know who brought her back to Roseau that day. It was Krissy, her daughter. She knew who Krissy was but didn’t recognize her in the flesh. She’d forgotten and it left her disoriented. She didn’t understand.

A couple months back she had called me asking to know who a couple of people were and it turns out one of them was my cousin Garrett. What followed that was a series of phone calls to me from her being in complete awe and totally perplexed as to how she could have forgotten who her own grandchild was.

That was the first time she verbalized to me that she was afraid. She’d gone through this with her mother, my great-grandma. She was nearly inaudible when she said she doesn’t want to forget my dad (her son) or me or Emma. She said doesn’t want anyone to see her lose her mind. She doesn’t want to tell her doctors. She wept when she told me she’s not ready for this.

I don’t think anyone is, grandma. I don’t think we can prepare for this.

She knows her memory is failing. It’s sporadic and random but it does seem to be more short term than long and I think that’s what makes it so much more heartbreaking, that she knows.

As someone I recently visited with said so perfectly: “It wouldn’t be 2020 if the last month wasn’t the hardest of them all.” Ouch, but true.

You might be wondering what this post has to do with my series. This post is the reason for my series; Holidaze. My grandma is currently in a daze, a state of confusion. A life of “everything seems to be fine” but then a blip occurs and it’s thrown off it’s axis.

I didn’t start this series to solely share a social-media filtered version of my seemingly perfect life because it’s so not that. I do admittingly try to focus on the good, try to only show the good but life isn’t always good. Sometimes all we want is a Wishenpoof wand to make it all better but they are in short supply this year. Everyone is trying them out on different things.

To close, I just want us all to remember where we came from, who we came from. Reflect on the parts of life that formed us into who we are today, recognize that they aren’t all going to be sunshine-y moments. The tough times shape us too. I want this to serve as a reminder to see beyond the pain that people may have caused you and try to address the pain that they have themselves. Dig deep to exhibit empathy to those you don’t understand.

I wish I could push pause and rewind on my grandma’s mind to the exact moment before her brain decided to stop working as hard. I wish I would preserve the memories for her to replay when she is feeling lost. I wish I could go back in time and prepare her heart before it was broken by the loss of a baby and ultimately a divorce. I wish I could have been there for her when she needed someone in her 80+ years of life because I see all of that now and I never had before. I just wish I could hug her and never let go.

I hope my grandma does have many years of life yet ahead of her and I hope we are able to contribute to it in the most positive of ways even if it’s from afar. I hope my niece Emma remembers her years after she’s gone and I hope she lives to see more great-grand babies of her own. I hope that I never lose the memories I have of her and I hope she finds comfort in knowing how immensely she is loved by me.

Thank you for reading. Go call your grandma (or someone you miss).

Edit: We did, in fact, swing so high the swing set tipped over! And on multiple occasions to boot. My brother’s memory has always exceeded mine. Thank you to Nick for fact-checking! :)

Holidaze: Thanksgiving

The day of the turkey has come and gone. I’m sorry to report that a not a flake of snow was in sight nor has it been this entire “winter.” Though, I suppose it’s fitting; a brown Thanksgiving. The color scheme for those that decorate their homes for the fall involve a lot of browns and warm oranges. Turkey’s are brown, or at least they are pre-dinner. If this year was a color, it’d probably be brown too. Right?

I was fortunate enough to spend the holiday with my immediate family at a cabin in the middle of Minnesota. This was the second time we’ve rented a cabin and the first for Thanksgiving. It was cozy and beautiful. The cabin had a sweet bunk room where all of us kids stayed and all I could imagine was how wonderful it would be if this could become a tradition; pausing our lives just for a few days to gather together in the middle of nowhere surrounded by cedar walls, jingle bells, and my dad’s legendary fried egg sandwiches for breakfast.

Spending those couple days with the people I hold closest to my heart helped to level my emotions out a bit. I don’t think they realized how incredibly healing it was to just be in their presence. To stay up late talking, to play games old and new, and just laugh. How fun it was to make Christmas ornaments and gingerbread houses that wouldn’t stay together. How relaxing it was to take a nap on a Friday afternoon and get woken up by Emma’s little girl snuggles. It wasn’t long enough but I know it was far more than some people were able to spend this year, if any. And I’ll do my best to cherish those couple of days, though brief.

I know we’re in a tricky time of comfortability with being in close proximity to one another and I won’t argue that. Some may even frown at the fact that our family selfishly spent time together and I get it. My feelings of physical safety vs mental health stability change nearly every single day. I watch the news too; I see the reports.

Way back before we knew that COVID would take over every other thought in our minds, we had planned to spend the holiday at my aunts house. She was over-the-moon excited to host Thanksgiving at her new home but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to thanks to our friend, C-dawg. My mom and I, however, did take time to visit with her from afar. She, at the top of her front door steps, and us at the edge of the garage. It was weird and unnatural and distant and cold but it was also warm and pretty amusing. A good story to tell in the years to come.

While I’m about a week late sharing my feels, I’m thankful for my nieces imagination and for my family’s unconditional love. I’m thankful to the people I’ve met this year and the kindness they’ve exhibited. I’m thankful for my job and technology; for the truck drivers and the health care workers. I’m thankful for love and God and the hope of a bright future. I’m thankful for my health and for your health. I could go on for days but I’ll leave it here.

Until next time. -Ori

Holidaze: An Intro

I decided to pull out my ol’ keyboard and start this series to share a little bit of my world with you all. I love to write more than anything, I find it therapeutic and it helps the socially inept side of me connect with others but I let the monotony of a mostly isolated life take up my time. Think: work, tv, bed, repeat all from the same 750 square feet, day after day. I’m tired of it and I need to make an active effort to change the bad habits I’ve adopted over the last nine months.

‘Holidaze’ is a series about navigating the weird time we’re in these last few weeks as 2020 comes to a close. The holiday season meets a state of confusion right in the middle of a pandemic, or something like that. I hope you follow along if you’re into it and feel free to share with others!

The holiday’s are always so tricky for me. On one hand, this is the time of year that brings me a lot of heartache (more on that another time) and reminds me of how lonely I am. The holidays definitely weren’t made for the single ladies.

But, on another hand, I love every single second of it. I love getting together with family and friends. I love the quiet days in with the fireplace crackling, a cup of hot chocolate steaming, and a sappy Christmas movie. I love the holiday festivals and events. The gift exchanges and the cute cards and the unknown of what my sister-in-law will decide to make for Christmas dinner! I love the celebration of a New Year and the tradition of Advent. The season truly is a magical time.

Unfortunately, a lot of that isn’t happening this year. And the parts that are will be different and unusual. It’s uncharted territory for us all and I know I’m not the only one that is and will continue to struggle throughout this season both in the holiday spirit sense and in the ‘winter = situational depression’ sense.

This season, I hope to invite you into my weird little world a little bit. I hope to connect with people I haven’t had an opportunity to connect with in a long time and I hope to make it through this pandemic alive and healthy with each of you. I hope to remind myself of all the wonderful things this world has to offer, of the bittersweet memories of days past, and of the many blessings we have in life.

Thank you for reading! -Ori